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SA scientists hook up to high-speed Internet connections

The city's two University of Texas components — The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) — soon will benefit from Internet2®, a high-speed network that enables large data files to be exchanged, digital videoconferences to be presented and supercomputing projects to be conducted with multiple remote sites.

The universities have entered into a partnership to use existing Internet2® connections at San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and have received a National Science Foundation grant to help underwrite the project.

"Internet2® runs over a different network, the Abilene network, and has only certain institutions on it," said Borries Demeler, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry at UTHSCSA and principal investigator on the new grant. "It is much faster. There is no commercial traffic, only research institutes and a few commercial companies that require this high-performance networking."

The standard Internet is called the commodity or commercial Internet. Interruptions are common because of the amount of traffic and sites, and the older-generation technology that supports the standard Internet.

"By providing Internet2® to our scientists, the Health Science Center is taking another step toward becoming a world-class research institution," said A. Jerome York, vice president and chief information officer at UTHSCSA. "Our investment and this grant will enable more effective collaboration by our scientists and other major research institutions as together we continue to unlock the secrets of both basic and clinical science."

"We are really excited about receiving this NSF grant with the Health Science Center and moving forward in providing access to Internet2® for our faculty and researchers," said Jeffrey W. Noyes, UTSA chief information officer and associate vice president for information technology. "This collaborative effort will enhance our ability to further develop our shared programs and resources."

The National Science Foundation awarded $150,000 for Internet2® access through 2004. The NSF required applicants to provide 100 percent matching funds. The Health Science Center and UTSA will pay roughly $22,000 annually to share SwRI's Internet2® hookup.

"Southwest Research has been an Internet2® member and user for more than two years," said James Hokanson, director of information technology at SwRI. "Having access to Internet2® has improved productivity for our space physics staff who collaborate with NASA and researchers in Europe. Sharing the Internet connection with UTHSCSA and UTSA will provide an opportunity to collaborate with fellow researchers in San Antonio, help reduce circuit costs for SwRI, and take advantage of unused bandwidth. All three institutions benefit from this new arrangement."

A high-performance router to send Internet2® traffic to the appropriate sites will be installed at the Health Science Center. "A portion of the grant money will pay for the router, which is an expensive item," Dr. Demeler said. "We currently have Internet2® operational on our campus and are beginning to work with faculty whose work can benefit from this powerful tool."

"Internet2® connections will enable our scientists to rapidly transmit and receive large data files relevant to brain mapping techniques and discoveries," said Jack L. Lancaster, Ph.D., professor of radiology at UTHSCSA's Research Imaging Center (RIC). "This high-speed link to supercomputers at other institutions makes possible remote 'compute-intensive' analyses using newly developed brain mapping algorithms. Internet2® also will improve accessibility to unique resources and databases at the RIC by others." The RIC is a world leader in human brain mapping — the assigning of functional and anatomical labels to corresponding regions within the brain's complex 3-D structure.

Contact: Will Sansom